“You could act like a man.”
— Marlon Brando/Don Corleone, The Godfather.
PHOTO: After trying to force J.R. Giddens (above) off the team, ex-Lobo coach Steve Alford realized that Giddens was a go-to man!
By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
It hasn’t mattered yet this season, because few games have come down to the final minute — wins or losses.
But if the New Mexico Lobos trail Wyoming 66-64 this afternoon with eight seconds left at Dreamstyle Arena? Who gets the rock?
Yep. Yet one more worry — or discussion point — for Lobo fans down the road: Do the Lobos’ have a go-to guy in the clutch.
The above example against Wyoming — far fictional, of course, the Lobos would never trail at home — is an easy one. Every Lobo fan knows you inbound ball to Anthony Mathis, hope he doesn’t dribble into a trap, then let him draw a foul.
Wait, that’s up 2. Down 2?
Yikes. What now?
Exactly. In a tight game in the final few possessions, a good basketball team has that one guy who can get the hoop — or draw a foul — in a must-score situation.
It can be an unstoppable big man who can take the pass up high, but get to the hole at will; a guard who can drive-and-dish, scoop-and-score or get to the line for the and-one; a forward who slashes down the lane and draws contact every time — or can cross-over and splash 3s like it’s practice.
And that one guy must want to put the team on his back, and get that huge hoop to keep his team in the game.
Every team needs a guy like that.
But do the Lobos have one like that?
Heck, as we hear twice-weekly, there isn’t even a Joe Furstinger in this bunch.
So what about that 66-64 lead? We only have eight seconds.
Jackson and Bragg look like they could be go-to guys for this year’s Lobos. If anyone could get them the ball.
Right now, it’s just hope Mathis can launch for 35 feet or hope Jackson get a decent pass inside the key, drives the lane and puts up the layup — the layup would make it a 50/50 opportunity.
But is it just me delivering hogwash in a “negative light”?
I wasn’t sure, so I asked coach Paul Weir:
So let’s just hope it’s 86-66 in the final minute, and there’s no stress.
(Note: The second part of this column will run on Sunday.)
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in the state’s history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.